Foster's Group has sold off its wine clubs and services group in Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

The company confirmed today (19 April) that it has divested Cellarmaster Wines and Vinpac International in Australia, Cardmember Wines and Carters in New Zealand and its investment in Wine Buzz in Japan to funds managed or advised by Australian private equity firm Archer Capital.

The transactions, initially announced in August last year, will net around A$270m (US$224.7m), Foster's said. The company expects to recover book value through the transactions.

Separately, Foster's announced the closure of packaging facility at Airport West in Melbourne, Australia. While the bottling equipment from the facility has also been sold to Archer, Foster's will relocate production to its other sites and third parties.

"It's a good result for Foster's and the Wine Clubs and Services businesses," said Foster's CEO, Trevor O'Hoy. "Foster's has now completed its transformation from a diversified portfolio of businesses to a leading integrated global drinks producer, while our Wine Clubs and Services businesses are now in the hands of more appropriate owners."

"These transactions represent the substantial completion of the Wine Clubs and Services sale process, announced in August 2006", O'Hoy said. "Cash proceeds of the sale will be applied to reducing debt and the recently completed $400m off-market share buy-back."

In fiscal 2006, Foster's Wine Clubs and Services businesses generated volumes of around 2.5m cases of wine, with sales revenues of over A$500m and annual earnings before interest and tax of A$39m.

In recent weeks, Foster's has also sold Vinpac International's cork business to Amorim Australasia, Cellarmaster Wines Europe to an affiliate of ABN AMRO Capital, and Windsor Vineyards and International Wine Accessories in the US to affiliates of Girard Winery.